This week’s question comes from Cassie. She writes:
I have loads of questions for you. I’m only 14 and I started trying to learn about the religion during the summer. I have not been that successful. I need some answers to these questions.
These aren’t even half of my questions.
Well Cassie, these are some good questions. I won’t be able to give you complete answers to everything, simply because I don’t know where you live. But let’s take things one at a time.
Your first question was “Where can I find a store to supply me with the materials I need?”
I think you would be really surprised if you spoke to most of the witches around and asked where they got what they need. You’d hear about trips to the herbal shops and that sort of thing. That’s fairly normal. You’d also hear about Walmart, hardware stores, junk and antique shops and swap meets. Sometimes we’ll even find what we need in a yard sale. The think is that not everything has to come from some occult store.
So why do these other stores seem to provide what we need so often? Partly it’s because we find what we need when we need it.
Many new pagans seem to be of the opinion that they can’t really practice Wicca without these “tools”. The truth is though, that until you know how to use them, you really don’t need them. In fact, even if you do know how to use them, when you really are in dire straights, there is a good chance that they might not be handy. Tools help; they enhance ritual, they are marvelous things to help us focus. But they aren’t the source of magick, they aren’t 100% essential to practicing our faith.
So, take your time. Learn. Study. When you need the tools, you’ll find them, and you’ll know that they are right for you at that time.
Your second question was “Where can I find a coven to help me learn”. That’s a great question. The first one you find may not be the best. The real task is in finding THE RIGHT coven, rather than just A COVEN.
Also, at your age, many covens will not consider taking you on as a student without permission from your parents. If you find one that requires permission, consider that a good sign. It means that they care about the relationship between you and your parents. It also means that they are willing to be held accountable for what they teach you.
Where should you look? Take a look at the Witchvox web site. It’s at www.witchvox.com. You’ll find local listings for your area there. Call around. Don’t settle for the first coven you see.
You should also spend some time getting to know what it is that YOU believe. Wicca is a family of religions, just as is Christianity. Not all believe the same things, and it will help you if you know what it is that you believe.
There are also some online resources. www.magickaschool.com is a personal favorite of mine. They have a free one-year course in Wicca that encourages you to think for yourself. They invite you to study many different forms of Wicca.
There are lots of books out there that are of varying quality. Personally, I like Christopher Penczak, Janet and Stewart Farrar. Raymond Buckland’s book is certainly not bad. If you can get your hands on a copy of Margot Adler’s “Drawing Down the Moon” that’s a great overview of contemporary paganism. It doesn’t teach you how to do magick, but it does teach you about the people who laid the foundation for the neo-pagan movement.
Your next question was about getting in touch with your powers. Here’s a little secret. None of us have any abnormal powers whatsoever. Our “power” comes from nature. A man named Aleister Crowley once defined magick as “The art and science of causing change in accord with one’s will”. Simply put, we use the laws of nature to bring into our lives what we most need and desire. You won’t see witches levitating their cars out of a mud hole. Things like that are fantasy.
What you will see is that witches in need somehow have their needs met. Christians call it miracles, we call it magick. It’s simply the laws of nature working, when we need them to, in our favor.
Everyone has some sort of psychic ability. We improve through practice. It’s not a “pagan super-power” as was mentioned on an episode of Deo’s Shadow. It’s simply becoming more aware of what comes natural to everyone.
How do you improve? Journal. If you have a dream, write it down. If it comes to pass, note when and how. Do you find strange coincidences happening? Write them down. Note how things come to pass, what your feelings were, where you were, what phase of the moon it might have been.
Then, later on, do something that many people who journal don’t do. Read your journal. Try to understand the patterns that influence your life. That’s how you get more in touch.
Your last question was about how to convince people that you aren’t going to hurt them.
If you’re talking about some of the very right-wing sorts who are uncompromisingly very conservative Christians … there isn’t much a chance of that happening. They typically believe that Wicca and any form of neo-paganism is satanic, whether you worship Satan or not. Such as those, you aren’t going to convince.
But for the rest of the world … be honest, loving and kind, and that’s what people will see. You don’t need to announce to the world at every opportunity that you are a witch. You don’t have to say it at all. If someone asks what religion you follow, you can tell them if you wish. Or you could simply say that you revere nature, and that that’s where god speaks to you.
If you’re telling everyone that you’re a witch, you’ll likely find that many people have pre-conceived notions of what a witch is. At 14, it’s not your job to try to change the world just yet. Your job is to be the best you that you can be.
Working hard in school, being kind to your brothers, sisters and family, helping out in your community … these are the elements of character that people will come to know and admire in you. For most of the world, this will be indication enough that you are out to hurt nobody.
As pagans, our integrity is directly linked to our ability to work magick. Magic uses the power of intent, of will, of integrity. If we are honest with ourselves and the world, we’ll simply be that much more effective. Being a trustworthy person builds character as well as a good relationship with those in our community. It’s all linked.
If you have any more questions, please write back.
And for those listeners who have questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave them on our blog on the web site. Just go to the main page and click the link to the blog.
© 2008, Deirdre Hebert